John Medici with (in background l. to r.) Bonnie Bartlett, Lesley Woods, David Clennon, Chris Allport, John O’Leary
The Back Alley’s very first production in 1979 was the American premiere of THE JOURNALISTS by Arnold Wesker, an incredibly ambitious undertaking with 30 actors in a space that only had 38 seats after we ripped everything out to create the production in the round.
Allan produced, I directed, and the amazing cast included Chris Allport, John Anderson, Bonnie Bartlett, Tom Bower, David Clennon, Stephan Gierasch, Bruce Kirby, John Medici, Allan as the editor, Claudette Nevins, Jenny O’Hara, John O’Leary, John Pleshette and Lesley Woods, among others.
We got pretty good reviews for this limited run of the account of the highly politicized workings of a Sunday newspaper, back when there were still many. My recollection was that it was like directing a living organism, as most of the actors were on stage most of the time, mirroring what other “sections” of the paper were doing. Arnold Wesker, in one of his letters said, “I guess that choreography is all. Slow, slow start, mounting…” and that’s what we did. Although then he wrote in the margin, “Bring in a mime expert?” –which we didn’t.
All the pictures, reviews, Arnold’s letters and other documentation (note that in the ad below tickets were $6) are here on the website. We’ve donated the letters from Arnold Wesker regarding this production to the Harry Ransom Center’s library in Austin. They house most of Wesker’s materials so these letters will join a significant archive that will be accessible to everyone. They were really pleased to get them as they’re about process.
– Laura Zucker